Many in the Darkness

by Thomas McGrath

Thomas McGrath

November 1941

We sat in the park, but there was a war between us,
A dead moon over us and all around us
The shy and secret whisperings as of the tiny
Woods animals which in the high forest gather
Wind-fallen goods before the frost comes.

We praised as lucky all whose sure existence
(As of the careless moon, the dutiless squirrels)
Is not responsible for human history—
Feeling how our happiness, how hope must mount
Machine guns which other men yet have the firing of,
How liberty is seen in the form of a fighter plane
Millions look up asking, Is it ours?

Our despair was temporary but not less painful.
Over us the moon was quiet about its business,
Pouring its constant light upon the naked beaches.
The squirrels built up their small defenses
Obliged to the fulfillment of a natural process.
Their leaf-lined cell, the brilliance of the moon,
The winter cannot touch and no touch tarnish.

Last updated February 16, 2023